School attendance figures were up in 2012-13, but funding down

Posted July 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Overall attendance rates, enrollment and daily membership in the Clinton County schools this past year was up slightly, but the numbers need to be improved upon in the future, beginning with the upcoming 2013-14 school year, according to Julie York, Director of Pupil Personnel for the Clinton County School District.

“Considering all the illness, I’m pleased it (rate) increased,” York said in a brief interview last week. However, she indicated that for various reasons, the past year’s rate needed to show improvement.

The attendance rate district-wide during the 2011-12 school year bottomed out at 93.30 and last year, despite several days missed due to flu-like illness in Clinton County and much of the state, attendance rates rose slightly to 93.45 percent across the board.

York said the attendance goal of the next school year is at least 94 percent, “but hopefully it will be higher.”

Overall enrollment last year also increased by 23 students, from 1,699 in 2011-12 to 1,722 last year; ADM (Average Daily Membership) was up by 14.59 as well.

In a direct result of how the economy in the state and nation is affecting everyone, despite the positive news of a slight enrollment percentage increase in students’ attendance, funding per student that the district receives from the state actually decreased somewhat dramatically from the previous year.

York explained that due to cuts in SEEK funding, the district actually received $108,000 less overall last year than the prior year.

“The state guarantees a base amount per year, based on daily attendance,” she said. However, due to constant cuts in SEEK money throughout the year, the per pupil rate dropped causing a decrease in funding to the school district.

For example, under SEEK calculations, the guaranteed base funding per pupil in 2011-12 was $3,903 and the guaranteed rate last year was only $3,833. This cut by the state department resulted in the district depositing approximately $108,000 less in SEEK monies than the previous year even though attendance numbers were higher.

The DPP estimated it would take at least a full percentage point increase in ADA (average daily attendance) next year just to make up the amount of funds lost this past year…and, she indicated she didn’t expect SEEK funding to improve but instead there may be further cuts next year.

“We have to keep our attendance as high as possible to balance the cuts,” York said.

Also, as the old adage goes, a student can’t learn if they are not in school and a school day missed cannot be made up.

York said herself and others in the district would be working in various areas to help raise attendance rates for the 2013-14 school year. She said she would be working with doctors and nurses for more services, the Youth Service Centers for support to students, school counselors to help students get through problems that may impede their ability to be in school.

Although York doesn’t think that raising the drop-out age of students, as many school districts and possibly the state as a whole may do, will play a major role in attendance rates, she is in favor of the measure. “All students in the marketplace need a high school diploma,” said York, and being in school until age 18 may help ensure they have the education for a job.

York also stressed that communication between the schools, students and parents was essential when it comes to keeping children in class and said if any parent had any questions or concerns to get in contact with her.

The following is some information about individual school attendance from the 2012-13 school term:

Average daily attendance per school compared to 2011-12: Early Childhood Center, 93.27 (up from 92.14); Albany Elementary, 93.85 (down from 94.21); Clinton County Middle School, 93.57 (up from 93.09); Clinton County High School, 92.05 (down from 92.14).

Enrollment: ECC, 161 (up from 140); AES, 519 (down from 517); CCMS, 525 (down from 533); CCHS, 443 (down from 452).

Foothills Academy ADA was 98.30 last year, down from 98.77 and enrollment was up to 74 compared to 57 the previous year.